To accomplish my 2023 resolutions, I have reduced the number to just four. I am sharing them with you here, because last January I posted a list of my 2022 resolutions and it was the most popular newsletter of the year!
Last Year’s Resolutions
One year ago, I explained the pyramid method of creating personal and professional goals, as outlined by marketing guru Dan Blank in a process called Creative Clarity. You can read my previous post here: Resolutions 2022.
I found this extremely helpful, and you can access the whole process here for free by clicking: Clarity Cards.
At the end of the process, I had identified six goals.
I’m happy that I completed FIVE goals (that’s 83 percent, which should give me an A for effort).
1. I COMPLETED MY NOVEL, hired a professional editor, and made all the changes that she recommended.
2. I HIRED A SCREENPLAY WRITER to create a script for Wildwood, the first step in a very long process.
3. I had a successful WARTIME BOOK EVENT at Danesfield House Hotel in England, followed by a month-long driving tour of Scotland. You may read more here: Danesfield Dream Come True.
4. I SERVED ONE YEAR on the Board of Directors of my local Métis Association.
5. I REMOVED A TRUCKLOAD OF STUFF from my house, although decluttering is a never-ending job, as you all know.
The one job which I did not tackle was sorting out the home movies. It is a daunting task and I am now putting it off indefinitely rather than letting it languish on my list for another year!
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Resolutions 2023: Advice
While reviewing this year’s goals, I followed this advice from my friend and online fitness coach here in the Windermere Valley, Lana Osborne-Paradis.
Note: I haven’t included any health and fitness goals because this annual ongoing struggle goes without saying! However, Lana can help you here: Blast Fitness.
Her advice applies to all goals, not just fitness goals:
1. The greatest predictor of future behaviour is past behaviour. Stop trying to turn yourself into someone you’re not, and work on taking better care of the person you are.
2. We need structure to implement change. Do you have a plan, or just a hope and a prayer? Spend more effort on building a system to support you in meeting your goal.
3. Don’t make the resolutions you think you should. Make the ones you actually want to do!
4. Talk about your resolutions. Tell your friends and family, and include other people in your process. (That’s what I am doing here in my newsletter).
5. Make it fun, and make it easy. Start small and you can always build on your goal next year.
Taking her advice to heart, I reduced this year’s goals to just four:
Resolution #1: Find Book Publisher
Finding a publisher for my new novel might be easy (fingers crossed) if I can strike a deal with my previous publisher, or it might be an insurmountable task. Either way, I should know by this time next year if and when my book will be published. Traditional publishing takes twelve to eighteen months AFTER the contract is signed, so it’s a long, winding road.
I could publish it myself, but the drawback is that self-published books, with rare exceptions, do not appear in bookstores. And despite the popularity of Amazon, I think many of my readers prefer to support their local bookstores (as I do.)
The search will involve writing a synopsis and a pitch letter, and sending inquiries to the publishers of my choice, followed by weeks and months of waiting.
Resolution #2: Find Film Producer
I hired a professional writer (writing a screenplay requires a very different type of writing and one that I didn’t feel confident in tackling myself) who was able to take my novel Wildwood and boil it into a series of visual scenes that tell the story.
Creating a screenplay was the first step toward a movie, since film producers aren’t interested in reading novels, unless they are written by the likes of Margaret Atwood.
Now the hard part begins: finding a film production company that wants to take my screenplay and turn it into a movie by hiring a director, signing contracts with actors, and raising millions of dollars from investors! Even a low-budget flick costs a fortune. My chances of seeing my book turn into a movie are very tiny – but I want to give it a shot.
Resolution #3: Don’t Volunteer!
This might be the hardest resolution of all to keep.
In the past, I have always devoted time to serving my community, and it seems mean-spirited to say that I will now stop doing that. However, I found my volunteer commitment last year just took too much time and effort away from my writing projects, my family and my health.
I’ll remain alive to the possibility of performing a few small, manageable tasks if they arise.
I have a tendence to overcommit, and hopefully this resolution will help me learn to say no!
Resolution #4: Read Better Books
This resolution came about when I looked at my Goodreads shelf (an online book group where you can keep track of books read throughout the year). My goal last year was to read 80 books, and I read 76.
I was feeling quite proud of myself until I looked at historical fiction author Kate Quinn’s shelf. Not only did she write an entire novel in 2022, but she also read 167 books!
Even worse, when I reviewed the list of 76 books that I read last year, I discovered to my horror that I could only vaguely recollect about HALF of them!
There are several reasons for this:
— I simply cannot NOT finish a book that I have started, however boring.
— I feel obligated to read books that are good for me (some are, and others are just dull). I call these my duty reads.
— I pick up used books at hotels and thrift stores and read them just because they are there.
— I read in bed late at night, and find myself re-reading the same page over and over with drooping eyelids. It isn’t surprising that I can’t remember what I read!
So this year, my resolution is to read books only if I am confident I will enjoy them, to read with focus and intention, and to close the book if it isn’t entertaining.
To this end I have reduced my 2023 reading goal to 52 books – one per week, which should be easy.
I’ve already started reading my short list.
D. E. Stevenson is my go-to author for light, amusing, gentle reads. I began with Vittoria Cottage and went straight onto the second book in the series, Music in the Hills, and then on to the third, Winter and Rough Weather.
I’m not surprised Alexander McCall Smith wrote the introduction to these recently reissued novels, who was an immensely popular author in her day (she wrote 40 novels from 1923 to 1969) because their styles are so similar. He writes: “These are gentle books, very fitting for times of uncertainty and conflict.” (I must confess that my reading tastes have grown lighter as the years go by.)
These books have charming, colourful covers as well.
This was a great way to begin the new year after all the bustle of the Christmas season. After my palate was thoroughly cleansed, I was ready to move on to more serious reading.
Next up was The Fire by Night, by Teresa Messineo. This was a duty read of sorts, because I’m part of an online book club being conducted by the Royal Canadian Regiment Museum in London, Ontario. But it was a terrific and very moving book, described as “a powerful and evocative debut novel about two American military nurses during World War Two.”
I’ve cautiously added a few other books to my 2023 list:
American author Jane Smiley’s new novel titled A Dangerous Business, described as a mystery set in 1850s Gold Rush California, as two young prostitutes—best friends Eliza and Jean—follow a trail of missing girls. I have read everything Smiley ever wrote and I’m pretty sure I won’t be disappointed.
Becoming, a memoir by Michelle Obama. I read an interview where she said out of thirty years of marriage, there were ten years where she couldn’t stand her husband Barack! Anyone who can speak so frankly about her husband must have some funny and interesting things to say in her memoir.
Greenwood, by Canadian author Michael Christie, which takes place in my own province of British Columbia, described as “a magnificent multigenerational saga that charts a family’s rise and fall and its conflicted relationship with the source of its wealth – trees.”
I will continue to weed through my massive list and select only the books that I really want to read this year. I’ll keep you posted!
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My Royal Souvenirs
In other news, my friend Fern, former co-worker at the Red Deer Advocate daily newspaper in Alberta, gifted me this lovely little collection of royal souvenirs when we met for coffee on Boxing Day. I wrote previously about my small collection here: Remembering the Queen.
It was great fun to unwrap these treasures, including one commemorating the 1939 royal visit to Canada by King George and Queen Mary, to drum up support for the coming global conflict. I will use this cream and sugar set, because it is just so darling.
Whenever I use it, I will remember the little story that my mother told me.
In 1939 the royal couple took a train trip across Canada. My mother June Florence was fifteen years old, and her school class travelled from Battleford to Saskatoon simply to see the couple wave from the royal train.
My mother recalls: “We were waiting on the platform when we saw the King inside, trying to lower the blind on the window. It was stuck, and he was yanking at it with annoyance. Then the Queen appeared, and gently put her hand on his arm and spoke to him, and he turned away. It was obvious she had a calming influence on him.”
To read more about this fascinating woman, click here: The Most Dangerous Woman in Europe.
Fern also gave me this shopping bag that her relative picked up in England – what a lovely photo of our dear departed Queen and such an amusing message created by some clever marketing person for an unknown British business!
I might have to search for a glass-fronted cabinet to display all my royal souvenirs! (You may wonder if I am backpedalling on last year’s resolution to declutter my home, but I will find other things to donate in their place. Happily, the Invermere Thrift Store is an excellent place to receive my treasures since they raise money for the local hospital.
Letter From the King
One last royal souvenir doesn’t belong to me, but to a subscriber named Fenella Sobchuk. When the Queen died, Fenella send a letter of condolence to Buckingham Palace. That’s not something I ever thought about doing, but Fenella is a very thoughtful person. She was delighted when, just a short time later, she received a letter in return with a charming photo of Elizabeth and Charles! (I deleted her street address).
One tends to forget in the midst of all the royal turmoil (sadly, Harry and Meghan have now lost whatever sympathy I once had for them) that Charles and his three siblings are all grieving for their mother, who died only four months ago.
Speaking from experience, this is not something that goes away and although my own mother died in 2017 I still miss her every day, sometimes very keenly.
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Friends, I am now well into my tenth year of writing this newsletter. It was named Wartime Wednesdays for six years and in 2019 I transitioned to Letters From Windermere. (All previous newsletters dating back to October 2013 are available by browsing the index on the right side of this page.)
Occasionally I toy with the idea of dropping the newsletter (more often, my husband suggests it), but I enjoy writing it and I love hearing from you.
However, I don’t want to clutter up your inbox so if you no longer want to receive my monthly email, please Unsubscribe on my website or drop me an email and I will do this for you.
Thank you again for your support. Have a delightful new year and good luck with achieving your own goals for 2023!
With warm wishes, Elinor